Play me a song: Braves organist charms fans, entertains players | WGN 720 radio


ATLANTA (AP) – Matthew Kaminski was planning on playing a Grateful Dead song as backing music for the Houston starting pitcher at the World Series.

Luis Garcia. Jerry Garcia. To find?

Then, after catching a glimpse of the rookie pitcher’s unique liquidation against the Braves in his hometown of Atlanta, Kaminski was suddenly struck with a bit of inspiration.

“Listen to this,” he said, smiling mischievously, his hands moving impatiently on the keyboard.

As the Astros’ Garcia made his way to the plate in Game 3, Kaminski burst into a playful version of “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” – the perfect musical accompaniment for a rookie right-hander whose extended wind-up has been. compared to someone rocking a child.

“I found this on the spot,” Kaminski will explain later, providing a quick introduction to his original process for crafting songs at all times. “There are times when I play a song for the first time in front of 40,000 people. “

There are plenty of stars at this World Series, from Freddie Freeman to Jose Altuve, but let’s pay tribute to the 44-year-old, bespectacled jazz enthusiast sitting behind the Hammond SK2 organ in Truist Park.

He doesn’t have the ambition to be a star – “when someone gets into jazz, they don’t think about becoming famous” – but Kaminski has pulled off an impressive musical feat.

It gave freshness to the organ.

Kaminski’s eclectic tastes for music, and his witty selections when opposing players come to the plate, have made him a cult figure in the suburban Atlanta stadium.

Even the Braves players pay attention to the songs Kaminski plays for the other guys.

“I notice it,” said outfielder Adam Duvall. “This guy is unique.”

A dedicated group of social media followers eagerly awaits Kaminski to reveal his planned social media picks when a new team arrives in town, though all picks are subject to change.

Luis Garcia, for example, was originally supposed to get the song Dead written by Jerry Garcia “Casey Jones,” but that idea was scuttled in favor of the song all insomniac parents know by heart.

Guessing why Kaminski picks a song has become an in-game game, with everyone from over 22,000 Twitter (@bravesorganist) followers to visiting media weighing in on the player’s connection to the tune.

Given Kaminski’s vast repertoire – he has an MA in Music from Georgia State University and loves everything from the Beach Boys of the 1960s to timeless polka songs – it’s often a daunting task.

“I choose songs that I think work best on the instrument,” he explained. “Some songs don’t play very well on the organ.”

Kaminski can’t go too far in his catalog – the guessing game doesn’t really work if no one has ANY idea what it’s playing – but he clearly appreciates the puzzled looks when someone is trying to figure out why, say, he’s playing. plays the theme “M (asterisk) A (asterisk) SH” for Astros slugger Carlos Correa.

“His name is Correa. What looks like Korea. ‘M (asterisk) A (asterisk) S (asterisk) H’ was based in Korea, ”Kaminski said.

He’s not afraid to press a few buttons either, although he’s always quick to point out that everything is fun.

When Altuve started Game 3, Kaminski regaled him with the rhyme, “I am a little teapot, small and sturdy.” Altuve is one of the shortest baseball players at 5ft 6in.

“It’s just a children’s song,” Kaminski said. “For me, it’s not mean. It’s about having the edge on the pitch.

In fact, most visiting gamers seem to recognize that this is all fun.

Kaminski still remembers the reaction of now retired outfielder Jayson Werth, who grew his hair out and sported a huge Grizzly Adams beard.

Or, in Kaminski’s eyes and then in his ears, a more biblical figure.

“He looked a bit like Jesus,” Kaminski recalls. “So I played a lot of ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’ for him.”

Werth was clearly listening.

“He would tell Brian McCann (former Braves wide receiver) that he couldn’t believe I just played that song for him,” Kaminski said. “He wasn’t really complaining. He thought it was funny. “

And now, a little musical quiz.

Here are some of the other songs Kaminski played for Houston players during the World Series. See if you can figure out the connection. (Answers will be provided later, we promise.)

– Michael Brantley. “Take him to the street.”

– Yordan lvarez. “Jordan River”.

– Kyle Tucker. “You don’t see” and “Delta Dawn”.

– Yuli Gurriel. “Girl you will be a woman soon.”

– Martin Maldonado. “It’s Amore.”

– Another song from Correa: “Spain”.

Bonus points for this one:

– Alex Bregman. “I am the walrus.”

Kaminski became organist for the Braves in 2009, landing the job thanks to a friend of a friend. He has now played in over 1,000 games, starting at Turner Field and moving with the team to Truist Park five seasons ago.

Living in suburban Atlanta with his wife, Kathleen, and their two daughters, Allison, 11, and Sarah, 8, he performs in town in various groups – though the pandemic has cut his show schedule – and gives private concerts courses.

“Anything that encompasses being a musician – teacher, performer, whatever – that’s me,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s only one thing.”

Originally from suburban Chicago, Kaminski moved south with his parents after initially enrolling at the University of Arizona. He always loved music and was drawn to keyboard instruments, learning to play the organ, piano and accordion.

His musical tastes are sprawling – jazz, classical, salsa, rock, polka, harmonies – but he concedes a glaring blind spot.

“The popular music of the last 10 years, maybe the last 20 years, is where my musical knowledge is lacking,” he said.

This is where he turns to his wife and children for advice.

“They teach me about Dua Lipa and The Weeknd,” Kaminski joked.

While the organ was once a staple in baseball stadiums and sporting venues, it has become increasingly consumable in a world of changing tastes. Only about half of the major league stadiums still employ an organist, the rest relying exclusively on background music and other shenanigans off the field.

Kaminski opposes those who call the organ old-fashioned.

“When I say I’m an organist, a lot of people think I’m just playing in a church,” he said. “But I think the organ is so trendy. If you watch a rock band on TV, even country bands, there is always an organist in a lot of bands.

“It’s not always in front,” he added. “But you would be surprised. If you listen to the radio, listen very carefully, the organ is there often. Maybe I’m doing my little part to make it more popular in sports. “

So, have you finished taking the quiz?

Here are the answers :

– Brantley. “Takin ‘It to the Streets” was the title track from the Doobie Brothers debut album sung by Michael McDonald. He shares a first name with Brantley.

– Alvarez. “River of Jordan” was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, but Kaminski was inspired by his hilarious cameo in the epic comedy “Airplane!”

– Tucker. “Can’t You See” was a hit for The Marshall Tucker Band, while Tanya Tucker sang “Delta Dawn”.

– Gurriel. Kaminski chose “Girl, you’ll be a woman soon” because of the similarity between the player’s name and the word “girl”.

– Maldonado. “That’s Amore” was a Dean Martin classic. The last name is the player’s first name.

– Corréa. “Spain” was one of the best-known songs by jazz legend Chick Correa.

Now for the bonus song:

-Bregman. The lyrics to “I Am The Walrus” include the phrase “I am the egg man,” which rhymes (sort of) with Bregman.

“I feel I have the opportunity to introduce this instrument to a wide variety of people,” Kaminski said. “I hope the exposure I get with the Braves sparks an interest in this genre and this instrument.”

Beat you !

The organ guy is ready with a song.


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